I was conflicted about turning 70 this past summer. Understatement. We all aspire to reach our 70s, or to reach what we consider old age. For me, 70 feels old, or at least, a lot! We take care of our health all our lives, so that we can have long lives. And then we arrive at this august age and say, “What the fudge?”
Who am I now – now that I’m 70? What does 70 mean? How does the world perceive me at 70? Physical limitations are a reality. But I didn’t want to define myself by the things I can’t do anymore (skiing, for one). Yes, my energy level is lower. But why concentrate on the negative when there’s so much positive?
I now have new rights, responsibilities and privileges in the land of the old. Specifically, I have made the decision to be a wise woman, a crone. I truly believe the world needs me to be “out there,” more than ever before, to make a difference.
On my 70th birthday I made a resolution to do a few new things every year. I don’t want to become stale, uninterested. I want to keep expanding and exploring. By 70, we’ve done so many things, you might wonder, what’s next to do? Plenty!
Doing something I’ve never done before makes me feel new – and young. It makes me feel like an explorer, a conqueror. Doing something new is a happy pill. The challenge of doing something new is energizing.
Here are my five new things this year.
After years of never having the time (due to career, raising family, etc.), I finally have the time to be involved in critical, important issues that I deeply care about. It’s time to raise my voice! I’ve become an active and vocal feminist. I’ve become a passionate environmentalist. I’m interested in helping the suffering immigrant populations living in risk and uncertainty.
Choose your cause. The first thing you do when you want to become political is to educate yourself. Read a lot, watch videos, pay attention to the news. Do your Googling and find out about what different groups and organizations are doing and how you can join in.
If you can’t donate money, you can donate your time. I engage in postcard writing campaigns to swing states, and I work phone banks, calling voters on issues. Whenever AARP asks me to contact my Congresswoman about a specific issue, I take the time and do it. Being involved is a way to meet new people. More than that, being involved is an empowering feeling. I feel engaged and current.
When I started reading product labels of ice cream sold at the grocery I got outraged: cornstarch, carrageenan, maltodextrin, non-gmo corn oil, enriched wheat flour, sodium bicarbonate, mono and diglycerides, huge quantities of sugar… Really? Why? I didn’t want to put this gummy stuff into my body!
I bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker and am experimenting with piquant fruit sorbets made from “just” fresh fruit and water. I buy organic yogurt, toss in some fruit or jam and enjoy a creamy frozen yogurt. Then, there’s the real deal: ice cream made with “just” cream, sugar, vanilla and whatever natural flavor I throw in, chocolate, rum, raisins, pecans. I will be a welcome guest when dinner parties start up again.
Though I live in a city with good public transport, sometimes I wish I had a car – but then, not. I decided to invest in a Brompton, which is made for “those who live, work or play in urban cities.” It’s a London made bicycle which folds up into the tiniest thing. I store it in my flat, pop it into the elevator and off I go.
I go for rides or run errands and if I get tired, I can put it in the back of a Lyft, or on the bus. The Brompton is “my car” – I scoot around town, dash up to Whole Foods at six to pick up something for dinner, I can visit my daughter in 15 minutes instead of the usual hour of waiting for and riding the bus. The exercise benefits are obvious.
Back in the 70s, music was my life. I had music on all the time. Then, I started my career, got married, had a family, and music was not a priority for me. I don’t know what happened, I mean, I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t pursuing it.
Right now I’m holding tickets to three rock/pop stadium concerts. Me, standing in a stadium of 60,000 screaming fans? Who am I? Music has come back into my heart again with a passion. Music colors my days. I don’t like listening to “the oldies,” I find new music to be exciting and fresh to my ears. Music has opened my heart again and I am so grateful.
I had the big family homes. All sold now. For a few years I’ve been renting a flat and loving the freedom of no responsibility. Then suddenly, I surprised myself with buying a condo. I finally walked into a place that made me say: I need to live here. It was intuitive. That was a huge surprise to me. I took the risk and here I am, packing boxes again, thinking about toilets and faucets and light fixtures.
Turning 70 made me confront my priorities, my fears, my desires, my sorrows, my regrets, my passions, my unanswered questions. I made a birthday promise to myself to live in the present moment, to practice compassion, which the Dalai Lama says is the most important thing in life. I wonder what new things I will do next year!
This is the first in a series of articles called, “Life in the 70s.” I lived in the 70s, and now I’m in my 70s. Let’s live and learn from each other.
What are some new things you’ve done this year? Or, what are some new things you’d like to try? Please comment below and give us all some good ideas!